Mowbray wetland needs attention

When the wetland on the western bank of the Liesbeek River in Mowbray, opposite Rhodes Office Park, was built in 1997, the intention was to provide an aesthetically pleasing public environment and perhaps a secondary thought was to intercept and treat urban stormwater runoff. This development was funded by Rhodes Office Park complex as a contribution to the environment. I understand that the developers agreed to maintain the wetland for the first two years, thereafter it would revert to a City’s Parks and Recreation department.

Want to read more and see some options? Click on the link to read a two-page document:Constructed wetlands need attention WETLAND3 20141022_183118

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Liesbeek Life Plan


Liesbeek Lake

Liesbeek Lake










The Liesbeek Life Plan is a recently formed collaborative effort between the Friends Of the Liesbeek and UCT’s Urban Water Management research unit to contribute to plans and designs for restoring and offering better support to social and ecological life of the Liesbeek River.

The primary aim is to provide a framework plan which will guide the building of ecological and social resilience in the Liesbeek River catchment while providing an “insurance policy” in order to safeguard and enhance the Liesbeek. This framework will also aim to address the relationship between ecology and human behavior by enhancing amenity and social value of the river.A secondary aim is to work together in a community of practice where we explore new ways of thinking from the knowledge and experiences of participants. This community of practice will include the knowledge and resources from various academic and professional bodies as well as from first-hand knowledge with community groups.
The Liesbeek Life Plan will use the concept of “Landscape Urbanism” as a means to allow social and ecological interactions to be translated into design. In this manner it will consider the urban, natural and social processes within the catchment and will aim to align them through design interventions at a framework level with associated principles and guidelines. These interventions will then be designed further as applicable at a site specific level so that plans and designs can be implemented in a practical manner. Emphasis will be placed on design which guides interventions in an appropriate and holistic manner rather than a prescriptive set of constraints.Reference will also be made to precedent examples elsewhere which illustrate the manner in which the “Urban River Syndrome” is being managed in other parts of the world.

Newsletters about the concept and progress of the project

No 1.  Making room for an urban river The Liesbeek Life #1

No 2. The urban river syndrome – what could be done about it? Liesbeek Life Plan #2 August 2014 (2)

No 3.  AIMS, OBJECTIVES AND OUTCOMES Liesbeek Life Plan #3 September 2014

No 4. Landscapes that enrich and enable public attitudes and actions The Liesbeek Life #4

No 5. Leading change in urban water management Liesbeek River Life Plan # 5

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FOL Annual General Meeting 24th June 2014


Sunbirds in the Western Cape rely on summer flowering plants for food during the hot dry summers. Summer flowering Erica verticillata became extinct in the 1930s and its reintroduction means an important summer food source is available for these lovely birds on the Cape Flats.


Annual General Meeting 2014

Thank you to everyone who attended the meeting. Every seat was filled and the presentations and discussions were lively. Chairman Phil McLean gave us a short summary of the year’s challenges and successes; Grant Irlam, our treasurer, explained to everyone how our funds have been managed; and the members were satisfied that the Friends of the Liesbeek had once again done a great job this year. Our speaker, Dalton Gibbs, had everyone “yaying” and “awing” during his talk on the rollercoaster ride of plant conservation, namely the restoration of extinct Erica verticillata. We also had a chance to hear what our Liesbeek Maintenance Project Manager, Nick Fordyce, had achieved in the 8 months that he has been on the river. Well done to Nick for having taken over so ably. Kevin Winter treated us to a slideshow of the 2014 Peninsula Paddle and Landscape architect Clare Burgess gave us a taste of the “Plan” that is being drafted for the Liesbeek and updates will be posted here and sent out to members as the project progresses. Finally we could tuck into the delicious snacks provided by The Fat Cactus (Dave), Players Restaurant (Sharon) and The Wild Fig (Trevor). A big thank you for the generous donations and support from these restaurants on the Liesbeek.


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Liesbeek Lake

The view over the weir towards Devil’s Peak at Liesbeek Lake in Observatory

The Friends of the Liesbeek AGM

Tuesday 24 June


Enviro Centre

Dalton Gibbs will be speaking on Erica verticillata and the restoration of wetlands.

Please join us for this important meeting. We are looking forward to seeing you again.

You can read the latest newsletter by clicking on the link below.

FOL Newsletter MAY

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Valkenberg Redevelopment

Final BAR of the Proposed Redevelopment Of Valkenberg Hospital, (D:EA&DP Reference Number: 16/3/1/1/A7/17/3064/12)


DATES:              29 November 2013 – 9th January 2014

VENUES: 1.      Observatory Library: Opp. Cnr Station and Drake Roads,Observatory,7925

Tel:021 447 9017(Contact person: Cleo Delmore)

2.     Mowbray Library: 31 Main Road,Mowbray,7700

Tel: 021 689 1201(Contact person: Michelle Venter)

3.    Chand Website:

4.      Chand Environmental Consultants: Contact person: Kim Wyngaardt, 021-762 3050, Richmond Centre, 174-206 Main Road, Plumstead.

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The Envirocentre

The Envirocentre on the Valkenburg Hospital grounds has always been an important base for environmental groups, facilitating open discussion and innovation for almost two decades. Read Emma Bryce’s report Envirocentre_Bryce.

The recent Open House held by Chand to comply with the Public Engagement Process for the proposed redevelopment of the Valkenberg Hospital raised many concerns. The interested and affected parties were able to speak to the project team but many issues were still not resolved. One of these is the future of the Envirocentre.

The building is the old Valkenberg Dispensary, an attractive 65 year old building, with lovely wooden floors, high ceilings and original doors and window frames. It commands an inspiring view of Devil’s Peak and the Liesbeek Lake, and has a long open space in front of the building where seasonal ponds and grassy fields give refuge to frogs and toads, as well as numerous bird species.

However, as is clearly stated in the report, the Envirocentre is far more than an attractive building set in open grounds, it is in fact, where a space was created where diverse groups could interact and energise civil society.

The Chand proposal for their client, the Western Cape Provincial Administration and the Department of Health, does not preserve this important space. Instead the whole area is to be covered by extensive new buildings, destroying the heritage centre and the open areas leading to Liesbeek Lake.

It seems to be a sad waste of a lovely, historical  community space.



The view from the Envirocentre

The view from the Envirocentre






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Liesbeek River Cleaning A[n Observatory] Community Project – NINTH CLEANING DAY, Saturday 7 SEPTEMBER 2013

Hello hello,

It is time to do another Liesbeek River Cleaning Day!

The flooding that has happened recently will for sure keep us busy this Saturday.

Please see attached some photos taken by the Friends of the Liesbeek on the 28th August 2013.

It is like going to the gym to get ready for the Summer, if we put extra effort now the river will be looking beautiful in December!


Vina MacGillivray has secured the involvement of 20 people from Tsogo Sun group of hotels. This will boost up the team on Saturday and guarantee an immense removal of litter from the river.

We will try and put the boat in the water in order to clean the islands as well.

I hope to see you on Saturday. Meet in front of the Wild Fig Restaurant in Observatory at 8h30. We will be busy until 3h30 so come when you can. Bring gloves, wear old clothes and boots or sturdy closed shoes.

Keep well,


Tel. 0721453010

From Wild Fig restaurantFrom Station road


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Peninsula Paddle 2013

Support the Peninsula Paddle on Sunday 9th June!

Here is the route :


and the map:


The Friends of the Liesbeek will be providing hot soup and rolls at Milnerton Boat Club.

Come and join us!

For more info email or phone 0216715385.


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Flamboyant Flamingos grace the Liesbeek

The developments, by Friends of the Liesbeek with the City of Cape Town, to allow flood waters easier access to the pans situated at Raapenberg Wetland, have not only assisted and benefited the community in flood alleviation but have also benefited the wider bird community. Continue reading

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Sharing the Future of Urban Rivers

The 22nd of April is marked as Earth Day, a day to take a moment or two and consider your impact on the Earth. The Project Manager for the Liesbeek Maintenance Project, Jason, attended the Oaklands High School Earth Day programme. He gave a talk about the issues and importance of urban rivers both globally and in South Africa, entitled Urban Rivers: time to change course. The talk included raising awareness about the effect of storm water run-off on water quality, the ability for rivers to act as green corridors and promote biodiversity, as well as the concept for water sensitive cities design. The ultimate aim was to highlight the need for new thinking and to take different approaches for solving many of the issues around urban rivers.

After the talk, the school got the children involved with planting indigenous plants supplied by the Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area, for around their wetland garden.

A special thanks to Oaklands High School for having us on this day, and to be able to share our knowledge on the plight of urban rivers with the next generation of leaders.



Jason Mingo (left), Project Manager, receiving certificate of appreciation on behalf of  Friends of the Liesbeek from Hylton Arnolds (right), the school coordinator for the Earth Day programme.

Jason Mingo (left), Project Manager, receiving certificate of appreciation on behalf of Friends of the Liesbeek from Hylton Arnolds (right), the school coordinator for the Earth Day programme.


Jason Mingo with, from far left, Sabelo Memai and Tania Morkel from Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area and the learners, busy planting the donated plants.

Jason Mingo with, from far left, Sabelo Memai and Tania Morkel from Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area and the learners, busy planting the donated plants.


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